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Victory: Campaigners ‘flabbergasted and delighted’ as Sainsbury’s shelves South End Green shop bid

Traders and residents celebrate victory as Sainsbury's drops plans for a new Local store in South End Green. Picture: Nigel Sutton Traders and residents celebrate victory as Sainsbury's drops plans for a new Local store in South End Green. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Thursday, July 24, 2014
6:00 AM

Campaigners have reacted with jubilation to the sudden withdrawal of plans for a Sainsbury’s in South End Green.

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Caroline Vickerstaff and Garith Brown outside Sainsbury's in Camden Town. Picture: Nigel SuttonCaroline Vickerstaff and Garith Brown outside Sainsbury's in Camden Town. Picture: Nigel Sutton

The supermarket giant announced yesterday that it was dropping plans to turn four independent shops in South End Road into a Local store.

The news spread like wildfire after residents and campaigners were informed by the Ham&High, and within hours a 20-strong group gathered to celebrate outside the parade.

Susan Brandt, of Wentworth Mansions above the parade, said there was a sense of disbelief.

“I’m absolutely overjoyed and I can’t believe it’s happened so quickly!” she said.

“We had three campaign meetings planned this week and we were planning for the long haul.”

David Kitchen, acting chairman of the South End Green Association, said: “I’m flabbergasted and delighted.

“I have always said the only way of winning this was for them to back out because Camden Council’s powers to stop them were not very strong.”

Campaigners, including Mr Kitchen, had this week called for the resignation of Sainsbury’s chairman David Tyler from his post as chairman of Hampstead Theatre.

Thousands signed online and paper petitions opposing the scheme, while high profile reidents including broadcaster Bill Oddie, actress Dame Janet Suzman, novelist Deborah Moggach and journalist Amanda Platell all spoke out against it.

But Sainsbury’s insisted the community uproar had no bearing on its decision.

The proposal collapsed because of the “complexities” of the deal according to spokesman David Mills.

The main stumbling block was that landlord Dorrington was unable to relocate some of the current tenants, which are Polly’s Cafe, Belsize Stationers, Sweet Pea florist and a charity shop.

Caroline Vickerstaff, Sainsbury’s regional acquisitions manager, said: “We are incredibly disappointed that Dorrington have been unable to bring forward plans for a new convenience store.

“We have been in discussions with a number of local people and our plans would have bought further investment, new jobs and greater footfall to the area.

“We will continue to look for new opportunities in the area, so we can bring our fresh quality offer to a growing number of customers.”

Ms Vickerstaff did not rule out the possibility of opening a Local store nearby or even returning to the same site should conditions change.

Garith Brown, senior asset manager at Dorrington, said the shopping parade has struggled with footfall ever since the closure of a post office.

He hoped that the proposed supermarket would have been an “anchor” business to help boost the fortunes of neighbouring shops.

Dorrington will continue to look for a “solution” to improve the parade, with its priority being to find a permanent tenant for one of the units, which currently houses the Relief Fund For Romania charity shop.

Lawyer and activist Jessica Learmond-Criqui, head of the Hampstead Shops Campaign which supports independent traders in the area, said: “This is a milestone for Britain’s high street and out independent traders.

“The community and traders on South End Green can relax for a moment, but there is still much to do to secure the place of independent traders on our high streets.”

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